College is full of lessons (literally) but the classroom isn't the only place to learn. Here are fifteen lessons I've learned so far in college.
1. Making friends won’t be instantaneous.
If you’re quieter like me, making friends hasn’t always been easy. Try to talk to the classmate about the homework assignment or introduce yourself to the other residents in your residence hall. You can’t make friends by hiding in your room. Take a chance; you never know who you’ll meet.
2. Try something new.
Part of college is trying new things, whether that’s a new subject, new club, new food or new hair color. Be adventurous and try things that maybe you wouldn’t normally do. Some of the best parts of college have been new experiences, like spending Spring Break building houses with Habitat for Humanity instead of going to the beach with friends.
3. Asking for an extension can be embarrassing but can be worth the risk.
Sometimes bad planning, procrastination and a full load of classes (and maybe some clubs too) can lead to too much to do in very little time. Although it can feel embarrassing, asking for an extension can be totally worth the extra time professors may give you. Granted, you shouldn’t ask the day before or even a few hours before, but given enough time, professors will see that you want to do your best and help you out.
4. Don’t get too involved.
Clubs, organizations and sports can be a ton of fun and a great way to get to know people, but getting too involved can affect many other parts of your life. Going to more extracurriculars than classes can be really draining and also impact your time to do homework. Be aware of over-exerting yourself with activities outside of class and cut down if you need to.
5. It’s going to feel overwhelming at times.
College is full of stress: classes, grades, projects and papers, friends, clubs, meetings, events, errands, homework, etc. The list could go on forever. Sometimes you’re going to feel like you’re at your wits ends. Take a breath and prioritize. That project is more important than a meeting for a club that isn’t hosting an event any time soon. Can you hold off on laundry until your paper is completed? Make a list of what needs to get done, starting with the most important.
6. You’ll meet some of your best friends.
I went to a college that only had about four kids from my high school so I knew that I was essentially going to college alone. Making friends took some time, but I’m so glad that I met those people in my first year of college. Some of them are my best friends and have ended up being my roommates. Give people a chance and you might end up with a lifelong friend.
7. You’ll find some of your favorite things.
I had no idea that I would find so many things that I now love. I took a chance on a Spring Break trip to build a house (something I had never done) and now I am President of the Habitat for Humanity Club on my campus. Giving new things a chance will lead to great things that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
8. Use campus resources.
Whether it’s the gym, the writing center, or the counseling services, there are resources for just about anything. Terrified to speak in class? Go to the speaking center; they’ll teach you tips and tricks for speaking up in class. Want to lose the Freshman 15? Find out what classes your campus gym offers.
9. Get to know your professors and other professional staff on campus.
This is especially important for when you’re graduating or trying to get a job or internship. Try making connections your first semester with your professors so that they can see your progress as you go through college. Getting to know your academic advisor can be particularly helpful. Even people who are not your professors can be beneficial later on. Getting to know the writing center staff can help you get the job with a writing focus.
10. Attend the events on campus.
Although it would be hard to attend every single event, try going to new ones. During my first year, I almost skipped the big Lip Sync event but I went and it is probably my favorite tradition. Also, try to attend events because clubs and organizations put a lot of work into them and it is really disheartening to have no one show up.
11. You are what you eat.
Make good decisions about food. Eating from the vending machine or heading to the pizza place on campus all the time without hitting the gym will definitely get you the Freshman 15 (maybe more). Try to eat well and exercise fairly regularly. Indulge every once in a while but don’t go overboard.
12. Don’t buy from the bookstore.
Seriously, you will save yourself so much by buying online. Whether it’s Amazon or Ebay or even a Facebook group at your school, buying online will save you loads on books. Books that would cost dozens of dollars in the campus bookstore are being sold for a few bucks on websites. I have saved hundreds of dollars by avoiding the bookstore.
13. Make smart decisions.
Partying is bound to happen and I wouldn’t say avoid it at all costs, but be careful. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t go anywhere alone. Keep your phone charged and on you in case you need to call someone or someone needs to call you. Make sure someone knows where you are, especially when traveling home. It is better to be safe than sorry; do not accept drinks from strangers or if you didn’t see the person open the container. Date rape drugs can be undetectable. If you leave your drink alone, do not drink it when you return to it. Even if you have to come across as a little rude, it’s better than taking a risk. Do not ever, ever, ever drink and drive or get into a car with someone who has been. Even if they are only “a little buzzed” call a taxi or Uber. Better to have to pay to get home safely than get into a car accident because of stupid decisions.
14. Be clean.
Please shower regularly and take out your trash. There are horror stories of roommates who refuse to shower for weeks. Although you may become nose-blind, other people can walk by your room and smell your trash if it gets too old. Cleaning your room and doing your laundry are also good ideas.
15. School comes first.
Clubs and friends can be a lot more fun and appealing than classes, but you’re paying for an education. Go to class, do your homework, study for tests and try your best. Don’t fail out or go on academic probation because you were too busy partying or hanging out with friends to do well in school. In the end, your education is what matters.